Harmony/Supertone Gene Autry Roundup

In the 1930s the Harmony company of Chicago cashed in on the popularity of singing cowboy entertainers by marketing cheap guitars with stenciled or decaled western scenes. Gene Autry was the first and most successful of these guitar-playing cowboys.

A Texas native and former telegraph operator, he was a member of the WLS National Barn Dance show in 1932 when he had his first big hit, ‘That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine’. Two years later he starred in his first film, The Phantom Empire, which combined western and science fiction themes.

The giant Sears Roebuck catalog company owned WLS – the call letters stood for World’s Largest Store – as well as Harmony. The company created it’s first themed guitar in 1929 for hillbilly singer and WLS star Bradley Kinkaid.

The Gene Autry Roundup, introduced in 1932, featured a generic lariat-swinging cowboy figure and a coveted wagon. It opened the floodgates for numerous cowboy guitars, most of which were barely above top quality. The Roundup lasted until 1938 when it was replaced with the Gene Autry Melody Ranch model.